View Full Version : Dirty Pols use Parliamentary Privilege to Beat Prosecution in Expenses Scandal.

David Guyatt
02-08-2010, 01:23 PM
Yup, our beloved pols, having fleeced their nests and got caught, now plan to use a 400 year old law to protect themselves against prosecution for fraud.

Blimey, mafia man Berlusconi must've learned how to deep crook-ify from Blighty's pirates...

Or did we learn it from the Lombardi?


Expenses MPs warned over defence

Elliot Morley, David Chaytor, Jim Devine and Lord Hanningfield face charges

The Conservative and Lib Dem leaders have urged MPs facing charges over expense claims not to use Parliamentary privilege to avoid court proceedings.

David Cameron said he was "disgusted" by the prospect and Nick Clegg said the public would be outraged.

Lawyers for Labour MPs Elliot Morley, David Chaytor and Jim Devine have all raised the issue of privilege, which usually protects MPs from civil action.

The three MPs all deny charges which they face under the Theft Act.

So does a fourth politician who faces charges - the Tory peer Lord Hanningfield.

The politicians face charges of false accounting under section 17 of the Theft Act 1968. If found guilty they face a maximum sentence of seven years' imprisonment.

Privilege defence

In a joint statement, the three Labour MPs, who have been barred from standing as Labour candidates in the general election, said: "We totally refute any charges that we have committed an offence and we will defend our position robustly.

“ Already they (the public) feel cynicism about politicians - saying there's one law for MPs and one law for the rest of us ”
Paul Flynn MP
"We maintain that this is an issue that should be resolved by the parliamentary commissioner who is there to enforce any breach of the rules."

Mr Cameron will say more on the issue in a speech on reforming the political system in London on Monday.

It is understood the MPs lawyers might claim their expenses are covered by Parliamentary privilege, which traditionally protects them from being sued for what they say in the Commons.

Announcing the decision to press charges on Friday, the Director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmer addressed the issue of Parliamentary privilege.

"Lawyers representing those who have been charged have raised with us the question of Parliamentary privilege," he said.

Elliot Morley - two charges over £30,000 of mortgage interest claims
David Chaytor - accused of dishonestly claiming £1,950 for IT services and also £18,000 in rent
Jim Devine - accused of claiming £3,240 for cleaning services and £5,505 for stationery
Lord Hanningfield - faces six charges of dishonestly submitting expense claims
"We have considered that question and concluded that the applicability and extent of any Parliamentary privilege claimed should be tested in court."

Mr Clegg said the public would be "appalled" if the MPs invoked a right going back to 1689. "Lawmakers should not be above the law," he added.

Paul Flynn, Labour MP for Newport West, appealed to his three colleagues to ignore the lawyers' argument about Parliamentary privilege.

He said it was never intended to give politicians "impunity" from criminal charges and if used it would "deepen and prolong" the expenses scandal which had gripped Westminster.

"There may be a technical argument about this but it is one that will be treated with contempt by the majority of the people of the country," he told the BBC.

"Already they feel cynicism about politicians - saying there's one law for MPs and one law for the rest of us."

The Hansard Society, a leading political research and education charity, said any attempts to use parliamentary privilege in these circumstances would be a "deeply damaging" strategy.

Dr Ruth Fox, from the charity, said: "If it is a defence against almost any action that an MP takes in parliament, in any relationship with their work, then I think that is going to be deeply damaging for the public.

"They will see that it is putting MPs above the public, giving them enhanced powers, making them essentially above the laws that they themselves make."

'Vigorous' defence

The charges were announced by Mr Starmer following a nine-month police investigation, which was triggered after details of all MPs' expenses claims were leaked to a national newspaper.

Another case remains under investigation but police said in a sixth case - that of Labour peer Lord Clarke - there was "insufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of a conviction".

The four men will not be arrested but will be sent a summons to turn up on 11 March at City of Westminster magistrates court, a short walk from the Houses of Parliament.

Former minister Elliot Morley, MP for Scunthorpe, faces charges relating to a total of £30,000 of mortgage claims which, it is alleged, were "in excess of that to which he was entitled" and covered a period when there was no mortgage on the property.

David Chaytor, MP for Bury North, is accused of "dishonestly claiming" £1,950 for IT services and further sums of £12, 925 and £5,425 relating to rent on properties which he and his mother allegedly owned.

Livingston MP Jim Devine is accused of "dishonestly claiming" money for cleaning services and for stationery using false invoices.

Paul White - the Conservative peer Lord Hanningfield and leader of Essex County Council - is accused of dishonestly submitting claims "for expenses to which he knew he was not entitled" - including overnight stays in London.

He stepped down as council leader on Friday and as a Tory frontbench spokesman.

He denies the charges and says he will "vigorously" defend himself.

Another fall-out from the expenses scandal was announced on Thursday when 372 MPs were asked to pay back £1.1m as a result of an audit of their claims by Sir Thomas Legg.

David Guyatt
02-19-2010, 01:48 PM
The below is what we poor, long suffering Brits have to put up from our poo-litical masters.

Listen and weep:


But common sense prevails:


The undead of the Parliamentary expenses scandal must have access to vast amounts of garlic, if you ask me.

David Guyatt
12-03-2010, 11:55 AM
The brand spanking new "watchdog" covering expenses for the MP's (Members of the House of Parasites) has already had its power curtailed.

Can't have Parasites not sucking on the taxpayer's tit can we.


MPs’ expenses: Ipsa and Commons at war
MPs have ordered the watchdog responsible for House of Commons allowances to relax the tough new regime created following the expenses scandal.
MPs spent five times longer discussing their expenses than the last Afghanistan debate Photo: PAUL GROVER
By Rosa Prince, Political Correspondent 6:14AM GMT 03 Dec 2010

The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority was warned that MPs would take action unless a “simpler” and “fairer” system was introduced by next April.
The often testy relationship between the two sides reached a new low as MPs interrupted the busy Parliamentary calendar to hold a five-hour debate on their own allowances.
It culminated with the unanimous passing of a motion which demanded that Ipsa introduce a "simpler" system itself, or face action.
The packed session lasted five times longer than the most recent debate on the conflict in Afghanistan, with MPs abandoning their usual custom of quitting Westminster early on Thursday afternoons to attend to constituency duties.
At the height of their heated discussion, the head of Ipsa issued a statement rejecting allegations by a senior Labour MP who accused the watchdog’s staff of leaking “juicy” information to the Press.
She also disclosed that she had wanted to punch a constituent who had accused her of being a “thief” at the time of the expenses scandal.
Ipsa has replaced the now-discredited House of Commons fees office, which failed to prevent the widespread abuse of the system of Parliamentary allowances.
Since its introduction in May, many MPs have complained bitterly at having to abide by its tough new strictures – which were approved by the Commons following the expenses scandal.
During the debate, MPs singled out individual members of Ipsa’s staff for criticism, accusing them of fostering suspicion and leaking stories to the Press. Other officials were described as “remote” and “obstinate”.
There were claims that MPs had been reduced to tears at being forced to abide by the rules.
Labour's Tom Harris said that MPs would not be "bullied by that kind of unacceptable and disgraceful behaviour".
While the debate was still ongoing, Sir Ian Kennedy, the head of Ipsa, issued a statement rejecting as “categorically untrue” allegations by Ann Clwyd, a former chairman of the Parliamentary Labour Party, that the watchdog had leaked stories to the Press.
Saying that details of expenses claims had been released only following a freedom of information request, he added: "I regret deeply, as will many, such attempts to undermine the professional integrity of members of my organisation."
Miss Clwyd also complained that MPs’ reputations had been “smeared” by the expenses scandal.
She said: "During my election campaign, someone came up to me and shouted 'Thief!' and if I had been a man I would have run after him and punched him in the face.”
Roger Gale, Conservative MP for North Thanet, said that there was a “climate of mistrust within Ipsa” which he claimed had been: “inculcated in to them, imposed upon them from the top ...
“Let's now call a spade a spade and understand what we are talking about."
The debate came as the first tranche of expenses claimed since the election was released by Ipsa.
There was criticism, however, after Ipsa failed to produce receipts submitted to justify the MPs’ claims – during the expenses scandal it was these receipts which led to the discovery of some of the worst abuses, including potential criminal wrongdoing.
The watchdog said it was a waste of public money to produce the receipts.
But Adam Afriyie, a Conservative MP who introduced the motion, described the decision not to publish the receipts as “calamitous”.
"I believe that this decision will prove to be calamitous; it implies secrecy and concealment when MPs could have nothing to hide and it encourages misinterpretation and miscommunication unnecessarily," he said.
During the debate, David Winnick, a long-standing Labour MP, said: "If they continue in their present way, remain so obstinate, remain so remote, then I am afraid the time may well come in this Parliament that Members will have no alternative but to come to the conclusion that new arrangements should be made."
Fellow Labour MP Clive Efford added: “I have spoken to Members of Parliament who have been in tears about the financial situation that they have been put in by Ipsa, who are not here speaking today."

Tears. Bless. Perhaps they could no longer afford daily din-dins at Michelin stared restaurants, or had to clean their own moats or service the mortgage on their ever changing "flipped" housing portfolios - or simply being no longer able to charge £16k a year for servicing a mortgage that had been fully paid off?

My heart goes out to these weasels of wonga.

Magda Hassan
12-03-2010, 12:04 PM
They'd be cleaning their bloody moats by licking them clean with their tongue if I had any say in it.